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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

THE ART OF GETTING OUT OF POWER         261

later on^ May 19, 1091, when after his term of office at Hangchow he

was again asked to resume his old post. This was Su Tungpo's longest

autobiographical letter, outlining all the past mishaps that he had run

^ato, including the episode of his arrest and trial The party men were

even "more jealous" of him than of his brother. After outlining his

ilong political career, he said: "Thus you see a long record of how, by

always taking a fearless stand, I have succeeded in making enemies

all around me." His letter against Chou Chung had greatly angered

his enemies and had increased their hatred. They bristled with attacks.

The ancient proverb says: "Enough humming mosquitoes put together

can produce a thunder, and a load of enough feathers can sink a

boat."

He went on:

"How can I in my remaining years submit myself to be their
target? I know I have done nothing wrong, but nowadays right
and wrong have nothing to do with anything. It is natural that,
after a long life of trials and tribuktions, I should want to enjoy
a life of peace in my remaining years. My request for resignation
is entirely sincere. ... If I were to change my nature, and hold on
to a coveted post by swimming with the tide, of what real use could
I be to Your Majesty? But if I try to keep my own soul and con-
tinue as I have been doing, I shall incur the hostility of the petty
politicians, and sooner or later must come to the end of my career.
. . . Therefore, after careful consideration, I have decided to quit.
It is not that I am not grateful to your kindness, but that in my*
old age I am ashamed to fight and wrangle with these little wretches,
and be laughed at by the high-minded recluse scholars. . . . Please
give me a post in the provirice, and do not publish this letter, for
my own protection. You may give me a troublesome district on
the border if you wish . . - but I am strongly determined not to
occupy an important post by your side, so as not to increase the
jealousy of the party men and be subjected to further under-handed
attacks.'*

Following his repeated entreaties the request was granted, on March
u, 1089. He was appointed military governor of the province of West
Chekiang and commander of the military district of Hangchow, with a
very high official rank. The post of governor of West Chekiang gave
him jurisdiction over six districts, which included the kke district of
modern Kiangsu. He was sent away with imperial gifts of tea and silver
boxes and another white hortfe with gold-plated saddle and a gold belt
for his official gown. This was one horse too many for Su, and he gave it
away to his poor disciple Li Chih to sell for money.